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Honors For Exposes and an Enduring Image of the Oklahoma City Bombing

April 10, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ The 1996 Pulitzer Prizes honored exposes on eggs stolen from the womb, cigarette nicotine tinkering and a Bosnian massacre, along with the enduring image of a firefighter cradling a tiny victim of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The New York Times won three prizes and Newsday won two. The Associated Press won for a free-lancer’s photo of the firefighter and a little girl in the ruins of the bombed-out Alfred P. Murrah Building.

The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., won the gold medal for public service for stories on waste pits from huge hog farms and the environmental damage they cause.

The series titled ``Boss Hog″ told the story not only of spills _ one that dumped 25 million gallons of feces into a fragile waterway _ but of the connections between powerful industry leaders and state regulators.

``The Pulitzer is a symbol _ the real prize is the impact the story has had,″ project editor Melanie Sill said during a newsroom celebration Tuesday that included champagne and pork rinds.

The staff of The Orange County (Calif.) Register won the investigative reporting award for stories that uncovered how doctors at a fertility clinic were stealing eggs from women, fertilizing them, then implanting the embryos into other unwitting patients _ resulting in live births.

The scandal closed the clinic at the University of California-Irvine, led to a federal investigation and spurred new American Medical Association guidelines on fertility clinics. Two of the three doctors implicated in the series fled the country.

``Journalists work all their professional lives for this moment,″ said Tonnie L. Katz, the Register’s editor and vice president. ``To say we are honored, excited and grateful is an understatement.″

The national reporting prize went to Alix M. Freedman of The Wall Street Journal for stories that showed how some cigarette manufacturers manipulate nicotine in cigarettes and add ammonia to make nicotine more potent.

David Rohde of The Christian Science Monitor won the international reporting award for his reports on the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica.

Using a blurry, faxed copy of a satellite photo, he found mass graves and collected the first on-site evidence of mass executions by the Bosnian Serb forces.

``This is very fulfilling,″ said Rohde, who was visiting the site of a suspected mass grave the day the prizes were announced. ``But the most fulfilling thing would be to see the perpetrators of the Srebrenica massacre brought to justice.″

Charles Porter IV, an Oklahoma City bank credit officer who grabbed his camera after the Oklahoma federal building bombing, won the spot news photography award for his snapshot of firefighter Chris Fields carrying 1-year-old Baylee Almon’s limp, bloody body from the blast site.

The photograph, developed at a Wal-Mart photo counter and distributed to newspapers worldwide exclusively by the AP, ran on front pages around the globe and was on CNN and the cover of Time magazine.

``I’m honored to win, but this is not necessarily the time for parties and celebrations and champagne bottles,″ Porter said. ``I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that this picture represents anyone and everyone who was involved in this tragedy.″

Pulitzers also honored journalists with unmistakable voices and decades of experience. A special award went to Herb Caen, the San Francisco Chronicle’s 80-year-old columnist, for his ``extraordinary and continuing contribution as a voice and a conscience of his city.″

Robert McFadden of The New York Times, who has written about many of New York’s biggest stories for 30 years in a distinctly poetic style, won for spot news.

The Times’ Rick Bragg won the feature writing prize for his stories about contemporary America, and Robert B. Semple Jr. won for editorials on environmental issues.

The award for explanatory journalism went to Laurie Garrett of Newsday for her reporting from Zaire on the Ebola virus. Even though it wasn’t clear how transmissible the virus was, Garrett went into homes ravaged by the virus to get her story.

Newsday won a second award for beat reporting for Bob Keeler’s detailed portrait of a year in the life of a Roman Catholic parish on Long Island.

E.R. Shipp of the New York Daily News won in commentary for columns on social issues.

Jim Morin of The Miami Herald won the editorial cartooning Pulitzer, and the criticism prize was awarded to Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell.

In the arts and literature, Jonathan Larson won the drama prize, less than three months after he died at age 35 following the final dress rehearsal for his rock opera ``Rent.″

Richard Ford won the fiction prize for ``Independence Day,″ a sequel to his acclaimed 1986 novel, ``The Sportswriter.″ George Walker became the first black composer ever to win the Pulitzer for music for his composition ``Lilacs.″

The Pulitzer Prizes, presented annually by Columbia University, are the most prestigious awards in journalism. They include an award of $3,000, except for the public service award, which is a gold medal.

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